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Malaysians Unable to Return Home After Contracting Covid-19 on Holiday

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Travellers going to the UK are now advised to bring along extra Covid-19 test kits with them as the UK is facing a shortage of PCR tests.

Some 39 Malaysians holidaying in London were unable to return home after finding out they were all Covid-19 positive upon being tested before their flights. The UK is currently facing a massive surge in Covid positive cases thanks to the Omicron variant that is infecting even those who are double vaccinated. There are even cases showing people who have had the Delta variant being re-infected with Omicron. (Note that vaccination doesn’t provide a guarantee that you’ll never be infected; the vaccine’s function is to greatly reduce the chance of geting seriously ill or dying from the virus, at which all vaccines are highly effective.)

Caught off-guard, the affected Malaysians were forced to bear the expenses of booking new accommodation to quarantine in before retaking more PCR tests to ensure they are Covid-free. As Omicron often presents very mild or even no symptoms, an infected person will not even know they have it until they are tested.

COVID-19 testing facility ready to go at Heathrow Airport
Covid-19 testing at Heathrow Airport | Image Credit: Future Travel Experience

Focused on returning to normal, especially with high vaccination rates, the UK government had relaxed international border restrictions that coincided with the Christmas and New Year holidays.

According to the Malaysian High Commission in London, as of 5 January, a total of 39 individuals were not able to board their flights home. Out of that number, 27 tested positive with Covid-19, and one person has been hospitalised. The rest will need to adhere to the same restrictions having been in close-contact.

The Malaysian community in London have rallied to assist those currently stuck there with food and supplies. Noor Amy Ismail, who runs Putera Puteri restaurant in London, had her staff deliver food to those affected.

“We received a message from friends in Malaysia about this family. So we are doing whatever we can,” said Noor Amy.

London to enter toughest coronavirus restrictions | Financial Times
Crowds in London during the Christmas period | Image Credit: Financial Times

The Malaysian High Commission in London offered assistance to the families held back albeit facing restrictions themselves with the new challenges brought on by the the surge in Covid-19 infections. The UK has seen an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases since December. In fact, due to the spike in cases, the London transport system is now facing staff shortage while employees take time to recover after having contracted the virus during the festive period.

The Malaysian High Commission is advising anyone planning to travel to the UK to be fully informed of all travel regulations pertaining to the current state of circumstances. Travellers are advised to obtain travel and medical insurance, and ensure that they have sufficient funds or other alternatives should they need to extend their stay in the UK.

Travellers are also advised to bring extra Covid-19 test kits with them, as the UK is running out of them.

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